Sven Herold | CEO LiveTube

TV 3.0 – companies, tomorrow’s TV providers?

By: Sven Herold, 2010
(original article published in German)

What will the TV landscape look like in five years? TV sets will have factory fitted built in internet connections. Today many of the latest models are already offered with a YouTube player or even with completely open access to the WWW. It is clear that they will be operated directly by touching the screen – similar to an iPad. Furthermore, rolling Organic Liquid Displays (OLED) offer completely new application possibilities – takeaway TV.

For this purpose the screens will then not be tiny cinemas any more but they will allow real cinema enjoyment during an open air picnic – the rolled out screen will hang on the roof rack. This is no flight of fancy – Sony presented precisely such prototypes at the world’s largest display exhibition, the SID (Society for Information Display) in Seattle at the end of May. (Link with video)

This rapid technological development will not only completely change the TV market but the whole media market too. Cable and satellite as programme feed-in sources will become obsolete or will only still be needed as an additional source. Thus broadcasters will lose their monopoly position, brought about by linear programming – the broadcaster will no longer dictate the programme sequence; the viewer will determine when he wants to see his content instead.  In addition, regional content will become more local – simultaneously national content will become more global. Through the mobile expansion of video offerings printed media will be displaced still further – additional video content for stories and news will be obligatory in the online area. The media market expects a flood of audio-visual content, the demand for good moving image offers will further increase enormously.

Many critics say that the media recipient is a bit simple and will hold tight to his habits. This is often brought up as a justification for retaining linear programming. After all, you want to see your “Tatort” crime programme on Sundays at 8.15 pm. In Germany above all, people like referring to the “relevant set” again and again.  Six broadcasters responsible for the viewer’s main use. Thus in future it will be all about how the new content is offered and structured.

It is not without reason that Google set up a new Google TV department in New York a few weeks ago. (Test site Apple is also working intensively on its own TV division. Because whoever masters the so-called EPG (electronic programme guide), will have the say in living rooms and on mobile playback devices in the future.  Electronic procedures which the viewer can use to put together a programme according to his interests and ideas. Whether the Bundesliga is then live on Sky or on YouTube definitely will not matter to the customer. That this is also not a vision any more is shown by YouTube with the rights to live Indian cricket, Yahoo has partial rights to the Premier League and broadcasts match reports free of charge. According to information from YouTube, its live cricket reached over 55 million viewers from 200 countries in just 45 days.

Cricket on YouTube:

Premier League on Yahoo:

A global broadcasting platform in the living room that can simultaneously also offer very local content – that is the charm brought by the new technology.  Town festivals on a live stream, “American Idol” becoming “World-Idol” in future and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” via YouTube – continuing to be produced by Tarrant’s production company 2waytraffic but with an English language worldwide broadcasting area. When I asked about this, many well known TV managers played down such visions. The story was always that too much cross promotion was necessary for such forms of entertainment. But in the short term even the established broadcasters will not be able to defend themselves against powers such as YouTube or Apple. And this alone because their loyal, old viewers are dying off and the young generation has long been on the web with offers such as “Du und Du” in German and they have already turned their backs on ARD, ZDF, ORF and the BBC today. Only news requires sorting by independent, professional journalists, which applies across all target groups, and the broadcasters will definitely keep a foot in the door here, even in the “new world”

All participants in the production process have to adjust themselves to the new challenges, which applies to broadcasters as well as companies. And to make it clear, this is not a criticism of the TV landscape as it has been up to now, but it is intended to demonstrate how technological developments will change TV and how new players will and can enter the market.  Good content is required above all – “content comes first”.  This applies even more with the new global variety on offer. Semi-professional productions, flip-cam reports and purely video interview clips will enrich the market, above all when unusual, unique, funny or spontaneous content is concerned, but this will only reach the wider public in exceptions. Storytelling will become more and more important, TV and films made by professionals – emotions, people and interesting stories, along with large events and live shows, will be the key to gaining reach in the target group and thus to success. Alongside “content comes first”, “good content finds its audience” will also apply– regardless of which platform is used.

At SAP the moving image plays a great role in company communications, and we reoriented the division as early as two years ago to meet the new circumstances and to use the channels opening up for audio-visual communications in the best possible way. Live broadcasts of all relevant events are among our daily business, mostly also externally and by satellite. As one of the only companies to so do worldwide, SAP has its own worldwide correspondent network of TV journalists. Journalistic preparation of the issued is in the foreground – no PR phrases. And here our company may be somewhat ahead of many broadcasters. Not only is the TV department staffed by former TV editors, we work with freelance reporters in our core markets – US reporters from CNN, a Chinese reporter from CCTV, freelance colleagues from ARD and ZDF, and also TV journalists in Brazil, Russia and the Arab countries. Although broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF have a correspondent’s network, this mainly consists of German staff who have a German approach to the stories as their remit. In contrast, SAP is globally positioned editorially but we have a local approach nevertheless. The stories from our CNN reporter have a US imprint and are thus primarily targeted as the American market. You will not get anywhere in Asia with such films, because there are completely different viewing habits there. Therefore, our Chinese colleague produces the film there, in the language of the country, of course. Countries like India prefer very local content, produced in India. There too we have an appropriate employee – a TV journalist of course.

But how does the content get to the viewer and why should supposed companies be able to determine the content? On the one hand, in we operate our own video platform, on which over 500,000 videos alone have been viewed in the past two years since it came into being. The service is oriented on multipliers above all who can then download video material in TV quality from our stock footage platform and prepare their own content from this. Since opening the portal last July the platform has reached over 300,000 page views, over 2000 TV quality clips (+15,000 photos) have been downloaded and edited into contributions by broadcasters such as the BBC, CNBC, Channel News Asia, ARD, ZDF etc. This does not include all the films broadcasters have produced themselves after finding the story on our portal. We also operate a YouTube channel and have a cooperation agreement with Reuters TV (Insider), which takes over all our content. We are also regularly represented with TV contributions on the most important business programme on Al Jazeera, “An Kathab”. This programme alone reaches over 40 million viewers. We still need broadcasters’ help to get more reach but as soon as more TVs are networked you will also see SAP content on Apple and YouTube with our own range in the EPGs. In the interests of completeness it should be mentioned that along with its external activities, SAP also maintains several internal video platforms for its employees.

Experience shows that due the tense financial situation, TV broadcasters are very happy to draw on professionally and objectively produced stories. In doing so they do not stop at companies any more, because they offer the worldwide content that some providers are lacking. Apart from this you can get a look behind the scenes at companies. With our own team, at SAP we can follow our board members as far as the most private meetings – barely imaginable with an external TV team. The same applies for filming on our customers’ premises. SAP journalists have privileged access here too – the material is then put on the platform free of charge – and it is used.

Now some would no doubt ask how we can guarantee objectivity for content produced by a company. We offer interviews consciously carried out by SAP only in response to an explicit request, because such company interviews would not otherwise meet our journalistic claims. The actual content will come from journalists allowing objectivity and independence to be maintained – which in the end is both significantly more credible for the viewer and also in our own interests. The same applies to the texts for the pictures. Here too we do not have any influence. When we do actually offer an interview via our platform then it is carried out by a reputable journalist who then also releases his material for other broadcasters (a so-called pool interview).

SAP Q3 Interview Léo Apotheker – deutsch (09/28/2009)
Poolinterview mit Léo Apotheker, CEO SAP AG zu den Quartalszahlen des Unternehmens, geführt von Christian

SAP Q3 Interview Léo Apotheker – english (09/28/2009)
Pool interview with Léo Apotheker, CEO SAP AG about the company’s Q3 results, conducted by Chris Burns, Bloomberg TV

SAP Q3 Interview Léo Apotheker – english (09/28/2009)
Pool Interview SAP Annual Press Conference, Frankfurt, Germany on January 27, 2010: Interviews with Léo Apotheker, CEO of SAP AG

Many people will now cry out, proclaiming the downfall of journalism. But who did not see the German international footballer Heiko Westermann on many German channels this week – source DFB TV (the German Football Association’s channel), Michael Schumacher live in all programmes from Mercedes-Benz TV or even party political conferences live by feed from the CDU, SPD, FDP and the other party headquarters, professionally directed and put in the right light – mostly without any fade in of “party videos“. In contrast, at annual general meetings there is an outcry if the speeches are only broadcast by our SAP camera. In the end it should be left to the viewer to make up their own mind. For this purpose naming the source should be the highest journalistic priority – not withholding information due to overdone professional honour.

In the end it all comes down to “content comes first” and “good content finds its audience” again. Only by underpinning the brand with clear, comprehensible stories will it also be possible to experience it. Particularly at companies such as SAP this involves showing how its solutions influence people’s everyday lives and change living habits. An abstract product such as software can be underpinned using visually told stories in particular and prepared entertainingly. But to do this PR departments will have to become much more editorial, work more as journalists in future and use the same mechanisms that have also long applied to “classic” TV contributions. In the end this leads to advertising and marketing money being increasingly invested in compiling journalistic content, thus flowing into communication. It is better to spend five minutes on more demanding editorial content that is broadcast free of charge by a TV channel than expensively purchasing only 30 seconds of broadcasting time for an advertising clip.  Dry PR or advertising content is no longer the key to success in the “new” age – regardless of whether they are broadcast by a TV channel, on YouTube or a company like SAP.

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